How often are innocent bystanders killed during police pursuits?

Three months ago, two innocent bystanders were involved in a fatal collision during a police pursuit.  In the released footage from the police pursuit, the officers followed the suspect for at least 1 minute and 20 seconds before the suspect ran the red light and collided with two innocent bystanders in their vehicle.  Although the LAPD police officers turned off their lights and sirens indicating they were no longer in pursuit at the busy intersection, they continued to pursue the suspect after the collision happened and arrested him.  As a result of this dangerous police pursuit, two innocent people are dead and the perpetrator was arrested.

These tragic deaths raise the question, how often are innocent bystanders killed during police pursuits?  Unfortunately, innocent bystanders involved in fatal collisions during police pursuits happen more frequently than it should happen.  The Fine Law Firm and 1Point21Interactive ran an analysis on the relationship between innocent bystander deaths and police pursuits from 2014-2018.  They found that 56% of people killed in police pursuits were bystanders, not the fleeing fugitive.  According to research conducted by The International Association of Police Chiefs (IACP), at least 91% of suspects involved in deadly police pursuits are chased for non-violent crimes such as traffic infractions, stolen cars, and suspected driving under the influence.  California Highway Patrol published a report deconstructing the total number of people that were injured or killed during police pursuits and they discovered that only 15.6% of suspects were charged with a violent crime.  Thus, it is likely that the perpetrator from the deadly police chase in Los Angeles County was arrested for a non-violent crime.

Based on these statistics, is chasing a criminal worth the risk of killing innocent people?  Sad to say that the risk is not worth the reward.  Catching a criminal for likely a non-violent crime should not take priority over the lives of innocent, law-abiding citizens. Police officers should consider these statistics before engaging in a police chase.  

However, we’ve created some tips to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones when driving.  You should know the most common places where fatal collisions from police pursuits happen and how to avoid it.

What are the most common areas where fatal collisions from police chases occur?

  • Busy intersections
  • Freeways
  • Highways

How to avoid a collision during a police chase

  • Be a cautious driver.  Always make sure to leave enough space between you and the car in front of you.  Check all of your mirrors regularly throughout your drive.  
  • Avoid distractions.  Do not text and drive.  Do not talk on the phone and drive.  Although newer cars have Bluetooth features which can allow users to talk on the phone or talk to text hands-free, we recommend to wait until you are at your destination to do these things.
  • Be alert.  Keep your eyes on the road and the cars around you.  If you see a police car approaching with their sirens and lights on, pull over on the side of the road so they can pass.  If you are in this situation but on a freeway/highway, merge out of the fast lane so they can pass you.  Do not stop on the freeway or highway during a police pursuit because you could be involved in a collision.

Although police chases can be dangerous and potentially deadly to innocent bystanders, taking these precautions when driving may save your life.



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